Opening her seaside cafe almost 14 years ago, owner Suzi Millard is grateful for the encouragement and support her loyal customers showed her during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
“I love seeing my regulars – I’m overwhelmed by their support,” said Suzi, owner of Sanddollar Cafe located on Beach Boulevard.
“I really do get great support from my loyal customers who come in time and time again.”
Suzi said that – especially during the pandemic – a lot of her customers not only want to buy tasty hot drinks, but they are also looking for a chat, with some of them not having a lot of social contact due to the current restrictions.
She said: “I love to chat to them and be their friend.
“I really enjoy working in the cafe, listening to people’s stories and I tell them my stories, too.
“I really want to be here for my customers.
“The team I have is like a family to me and the cafe really is my second home.”
Prior to opening her own small business, Suzi worked as a chef in Spider’s Web for six years and she said the experience of working there gave her the confidence to open her cafe.
She said: “Before that, I worked at Camphill School for handicapped children.
“And in between that I had my family.”
One of her three sons – Matthew – has been helping Suzi a lot during coronavirus.
She said: “He’s been giving me great support.
“This last year he was working with me, helping me rearrange everything to adjust to Covid rules and regulations.
“He works the front of house and did all the professional photography too.
“He’s been my rock.”
Sanddollar Cafe is well known for offering a wide range of speciality teas and coffees.
“We also do amazing hot chocolates,” said Suzi.
“They’re suitable for vegans as well.
“We offer alternative milk in the cafe – the number of people who request vegan-friendly milk options is amazing.”
In addition, the cafe also offers fruity shakes and milkshakes.
Suzi said: “We sell two particularly nice breakfast smoothies – Green and Berry.
“The Green smoothie is made from pineapple, banana, spinach, chai seeds, coconut water, yoghurt and peanut butter.
“And the Berry one is made from blueberries, raspberries, banana, flax, hemp seeds, almond milk and almond butter.”
The popular seaside cafe also offers a lot of flavoured milkshakes, including vanilla, chocolate, banana, raspberry and salted caramel. They are all made with Orkey Ice Cream.
Suzi said: “They are so popular – especially when we were doing our burgers and milkshakes evenings last summer.
“We also have a wine and beer list, but obviously, due to Covid, we’re not offering alcoholic drinks at the moment.”
Since it’s a bit chilly outside at the moment, most of Suzi’s customers order coffees.
She said: “We offer Americano, cappuccino, lattes, flat whites, cortado and piccolo.
“People really do enjoy our coffees – or so I’m told by my regulars.
“They are happy to wait in a queue for our coffee.”
In addition to its mouth-watering drinks, customers can collect the cafe’s burgers too.
Suzi said: “We have smashed beef and chicken burgers on offer.
“And since we’re by the beach, we wanted to offer a shrimp burger too.
“We also sell a vegan option.
“The chicken burger is the most popular one with our customers.”
Suzi’s team also sell a selection of sandwiches made with sourdough bread, which they buy from Aberdeen-based The Bread Guy.
Since she appreciates her loyal customers back her small business, Suzi also likes to support other independent north-east businesses. She works with Peterhead Fish Company, McWilliam Butchers and Sutherlands of Portsoy – to name a few.
She said: “I try to use as much of local produce as possible for our takeaway menu.”
When the cafe is open, Suzi is happy to see a lot of familiar faces popping in for her famous all-day breakfast.
She added: “I think my breakfast is what I#m most known for – that and our great coffee.”
At the moment, Suzi employs nine members of staff, with some of them working part-time.
She said: “We have an exceptionally good core team and we all work very well together.
“We really are a big family – every working day is a joy.
“The staff are always smiling, happy and have a story to tell.”
Suzi hopes life will be back to some sort of normality by summer as she would like to see her business reopen for sitting in in the coming months.
We put Suzi through our round of quick-fire questions. See how she got on below:
What’s your customer icebreaker?
I just say “Hi, how are you?” or “What can I do for you today?”.
It’s the end of your shift – what do you pour yourself?
I’d have a glass of red wine when I get home, but in the cafe I’d just have a cup of coffee.
If you were a drink, what would you be?
I’m also a gin and tonic girl.
What would the theme song to your average shift be?
We usually put on ABBA music or songs from The Greatest Showman when we’re cleaning up. Some of the girls in the cafe also like to listen to Michael Bubble.
What’s in your drinks cabinet at home?
Mostly gin – I really like Tanqueray gin as well as The Botanist.
Best food and drink pairing?
Red wine and steak.
If you were stuck on a desert island, what three drinks are there with you?
It would have to be gin and tonic, and something bubbly like prosseco.
Your favourite celebrity comes to the cafe. Who is it and what do you serve them?
I would offer Adele an Arnold Bennett Omelette, which is one of our most popular lunch/ brunch dishes.
Visit www.sanddollarcafe.com for more information and to see the cafe’s menus